ATHENS — The 16th-ranked Georgia men's golf team will be the host of the NCAA Athens Regional being held Monday through Wednesday at the UGA Golf Course (par-71, 7,253 yards).
The top five teams and the low individual not on one of those squads after 54 holes of stroke play will advance to the NCAA Championships May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
There is no charge for admission or parking for the Athens Regional. In addition to watching the competition, fans are encouraged to visit the newly renovated Boyd Golf Center, which serves as the headquarters for Georgia men’s and women’s golf.
The Athens Regional will have tee times starting at 7:30 a.m. each day. The Bulldogs will go off in 11-minute increments starting at 7:30 a.m. on No. 1 on Monday and will be paired with Vanderbilt and Duke.
Although the Bulldogs annually host the Southern Intercollegiates at Athens Country Club, an event for the men at the UGA Golf Course is somewhat rare. The Bulldogs hosted the 1998 SEC Championship and the 2012 NCAA Regional. But the UGA Golf Course is tournament ready, having been the location for the Web.com Tour’s Stadion Classic, the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic, the women’s NCAA Championships, a women’s Regional, and the PGA Junior Championship.
“It’s a great opportunity to be at home,” Georgia head coach Chris Haack said. “It gives us the chance to play on a course we’re extremely familiar with, it lets our fans come out, and it allows us to show off the history of our program inside the Boyd Center. For us, that is a huge point of pride. But we also recognize that we have to focus on our task at hand and treat this the same way we would any Regional. Only five teams will advance to the NCAAs. There is a strong field coming to Athens, and we’re going to have to be at our best.”
The Bulldogs were invited to an NCAA Regional for the 24th straight year and for the 30th time in 31 seasons since the format was introduced in 1988-89. The Bulldogs have advanced from the Regional to the NCAAs 21 times. The Bulldogs have been invited to an NCAA Regional in all 23 of Haack's seasons and have moved onto the NCAAs in 18 of the previous 22 campaigns. Haack led the Bulldogs to the 1999 and 2005 national titles, to runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2011, and to the national semifinals in 2015.
The Bulldogs will use a lineup of juniors Trevor Phillips and former Gainesville High standout Spencer Ralston, sophomore Davis Thompson, and freshmen Will Kahlstorf and Trent Phillips. That quintet has won twice this spring, taking the Puerto Rico Classic and the Linger Longer Invitational.
Trent Phillips is second in the SEC with a scoring average of 70.04, while Ralston ranks fourth at 70.16.
“Playing at home, we just need to go out and enjoy the moment,” Ralston said. “We’ve all played this course so many times and we know its nooks and crannies. It will be nice to know what we know out there compared to the field. The familiarity of the course is invaluable and it gives us a comfortable feeling.”
The Bulldogs are seeded third in the Athens Regional. Joining the Bulldogs in Athens are No. 1 seed Vanderbilt, No. 2 seed Duke, No. 4 seed Liberty, No. 5 seed Alabama, No. 6 seed Tennessee, No. 7 seed Campbell, No. 8 seed Kentucky, No. 9 seed Nevada, No. 10 seed SMU, No. 11 seed Memphis, No. 12 seed UNC-Wilmington, and No. 13 seed Princeton. Campbell, Memphis, UNC-Wilmington, and Princeton were automatic qualifiers as conference champions.
There also are 10 individuals making the trek to Athens -- Roland Massimino, Kansas State; Jacob Eklund, Kansas State; Eduardo Carrete, Jacksonville; Keller Harper, Furman; Jeremy Gandon, Kansas State; Billy Tom Sargent, Western Kentucky; Logan Sowell, College of Charleston; John Gough, Charlotte; Jordan Warnock, South Carolina Upstate; and Will Halamandaris, Lafayette.